NOAA is seeking public input on the creation of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOA) in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and waters off of southern California via a 60-day public comment period which will be open through December 22, 2020. The public and stakeholders are encouraged to provide comments for AOA creation in these areas as well as the location of future AOAs. Establishing these Aquaculture Opportunity Areas are part of NOAA’s responsibility under the May 2020 Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth.
The public input provided in response to this request for information will inform NOAA as it works with federal agencies, appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils, and in coordination with appropriate state and tribal governments to identify geographic areas that will be considered in more depth through the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. To identify each AOA, NOAA will use a combination of powerful data-driven siting analysis using hundreds of types of data on ocean uses and this public input. The synthesis of these two essential elements will highlight space that is environmentally, socially and economically appropriate for commercial aquaculture.
The AOA announcement, supporting materials and links to the RFI are available here.